August 20, 2012

a curious rest

Today it is quiet in my house.

After my Farmer laced up his work boots and drove off in the Box (our Scion xB), I sat a bit and thought about my day.

I could run errands.

I could lie on the hammock.

I could read.

Or, I could give that door to the garage another coat of paint.

Which I did, my paintbrush stilling my mind to give ear to a sermon on renewing the mind by Bill Johnson.  I wanted to hear more (and don't listen well without activity), so I painted the doorposts around another door, listening to the next sermon in the series.

I scrubbed the sink mats and the kitchen sink while listening to part three.  I washed the dishes to part four.

I drove out for more paint - red, this time, working up my courage for bold color.

Home, I contemplated.  Red - really?  What if I was wrong?  What if it was too much?

[what would my Farmer say?  I asked myself.  He would say - you can always paint over it.]

I dipped my brush into the red ("Wow, that's a lot of red!" the man at the hardware store had said, admiringly, as he added pigment to the can) and ran it along the window frame.  Bright!  I brushed down the side to the sound of Bill Johnson's voice:  part five.

I finished the frame and moved on to paint a door red.  Then doorposts to another door (we have a LOT of doors in our kitchen - nine, if you count empty doorways, too).  Part six.

I took a break to grill a sandwich.  I scraped a screen door (but need outdoor paint for that one) and looked at a new-to-me budget website.  Retired to the hammock to call my Farmer about supper plans.

My day is nearly over, now.

Somehow, despite the work I did, despite the listening, and listening, and listening ... I had a day of rest.  I am still inside - "I have stilled & quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me."  Psalm 131:2

Curious.  My mind feels renewed ...

August 17, 2012

maple cream update!

My friends!  I have good news for you:  I have (finally - I can't believe it took me so long to tinker!!) simplified the procedure for my beloved Frozen Maple Cream.  Actually, "simplified" doesn't begin to properly express how easy this former labor of love now is.  It's just ridiculous.

First, go out and buy an ice cream maker (or unearth the one that's been lurking in some back closet for years).  I use a Sunbeam (only mine is not cool & red like the one in the link, just plain white) that I bought new in the box at Goodwill.  It seemed like a splurge at the time, but the thrill I get over eating Our Own Ice Cream is worth it every time!  Plus - where could you ever find ice cream available commercially to compare with this?!

I hereby give you ...

Maple Ice Cream

2/3 cup maple syrup
2 cup cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Stir.  Activate ice cream maker.  Pour in.  WAIT (I know, I know - this is the hard part!) - my machine says about 40 minutes (but this may vary depending on the ambient temperature & how quickly the gel canister thaws).  Enjoy immediately (very soft), or for even better ice cream, spoon into a bowl with a lid and set it in the freezer for another hour.  Scoop.  Bliss.

There - isn't that simple?!

: : :

[Now, I must admit that I'm not done tinkering.  I think this could be just a smidge less sweet, so next time I'll only use a 1/2 cup maple syrup.  Also, the first time I made this, I was going strictly by the book ... sort of ... and didn't want to exceed the recommended 2 cups total of liquid, so I started with only 1 1/3 cup cream.  However, this recipe does not expand the way some others did, and I ended up refreezing it with the additional cream.  So next time:  1/2 cup maple syrup, 2 cups cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/8 tsp. salt.  I'll let you know how it goes.]

August 14, 2012


The rain poured down, this morning.  I rescued a bucket of brand-new sidewalk chalk from the driveway after pondering the "natural consequences" theory of discipline and rejecting it in favor of not having wasted the five bucks I paid ... and because I like to use the chalk, too.

My tiny kitchen "sideboard" overflows with fruit from the grocery store and my Farmer's fields - peaches, asian pears, yellow & purple plums:  evidence of abundance.

A bouquet that Spice picked for me last night graces the table:  a handful of foxtails, and a spike of fiery red gladiola blossoms - her signature careless beauty.

Caterpillars in a glass gallon jar change slowly, unknowingly, into winged creatures.

A boy demands, insists, and learns to say "May I please?"  His hands know how to be gentle even as his feet clomp about in big sister's sneakers, his current preferred footwear.

Sugar french-knots her doll's name into fleece, making a pillow, proud of her artistry, her skill.

Paint-with-water pages litter the table, the counter, the fridge, like rabbits overbreeding.

The lights are on; the sky outside still dim.

Chores are done - schoolwork, too - early this time.  A new dry-erase board makes it mysteriously more fun.

The task in front of me, making out a list of food to buy, scatters with interruptions from children and from facebook.  I am permanently halfway done.  My own to-do list cowers by the fridge, intimidated by my lethargy.  Bake bread, it exhorts.  Make ice cream cake for Spice's birthday.  (I write a blog post instead.)

To be disciplined & do what needs to be done .... to know how to rest ... what is the agenda for today?

I try to listen.

August 13, 2012

a beautiful mess

Life is messy.

This morning, in anticipation of a visit from a friend and her children, we (that is, I and the children under my command) scurried about making ready.

Sweep the floor.  Wash and cut vegetables for lunch.  Clean the sink.  Sweep the porch.  Take out trash.  Tidy up.  Shut the laundry room door!  Get out new chalk for the driveway, and bubbles.  Change Lil' Snip's shorts when he spilled bubbles on them, and wash off his legs.

Is it time yet?

Nice, who is just learning to tell time, informed me regularly of the clock's progress.  She was the one who noticed when the minute hand drifted significantly past the twelve.  (She was also the one - surprise, surprise - who invited Lil' Snip into the wading pool without my or anyone else's knowledge, as a result of which he fell down in the water and needed yet another pair of clean shorts, and a shirt to boot.)

They were late.  Hmmm, I tried to remember, does she often run a bit behind?  We only see them about once a year, so I gave her another fifteen minutes before I called.

"Hi!" she answered cheerily, "How are you?"

Somehow we had each chosen a different Monday to write down this reunion.  She felt badly:  she had been on the receiving end of just such a scheduling snafu the previous week, so she knew how disappointed we were.

Deflated, we put away our expectations for the morning.  I was, frankly, at a loss.  It seemed best to redeem the time by going ahead with the abandoned schoolwork, but I didn't have the heart.  The children wandered about aimlessly while I pondered our wasted efforts:  clean house, lunch prepared in advance, and no one to share it with!

"When life gives you lemons ....."

I called a good friend, who I didn't think would mind being plan B, and who just might be willing to toss out her own plans for the day to make room for an impromptu play date.

She didn't, she was, and over they came.  We had a ball:  they shared our lunch, and the clean house was soon full of toys again.  The mommies talked and the children played, and we'll see our other friends next week, after all.

The lemonade was sweet.  I'm so glad I knew the recipe.

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